To gain competitive advantage, brands are increasingly becoming concerned with their relationships with resellers and are employing local representatives. Interactions between local individuals who represent the firm behind the brand and the reseller firm provide opportunities for highlighting commercial aspects of the brand, such as product pricing, product differentiation and brand experience, to the reseller (Gummesson, 1994). Local individuals representing brands use opportunities to promote the brand by building trust in the brand-reseller relationship (Liberman and Montgomery, 1988; Morgan and Hunt, 2002; Christine, 2005).
This practice has been regularly employed by brands in IT (Intel, HP, Microsoft), telecom (Samsung, Benq, Sony Ericsson) and pharma (Pfizer, Ranbaxy) that tend to push their products through large networks of resellers, retailers and pharmacists. Such local individuals representing firms have been termed brand ambassadors by Debling et al. (2002) and Gromark and Melin (2011) whereas they have been termed relationship promoters by authors such as Palmatier et al. (2007a) and Walter and Gemunden (2000). This study investigates the characteristics of local individuals who represent a brand to its resellers. It does this by first conceptualizing these characteristics by employing complexity theory and then testing the conceptualization. The result is a scale of characteristics that can be used as an employee profile.
In order to precisely identify the characteristics of local brand representatives who can drive reseller brand preference, a scale was developed and empirically tested by the researchers using structure equation modeling techniques and fuzzyset qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) (Ragin, 2006 and 2008). fsQCA helps the researchers to gain a rich perspective on the data when applied together with complexity theory (Leischnig and Kasper-Brauer, 2015; Leischnig & Kasper-Brauer, 2015; Mikalef et al., 2015; Ordanini et al., 2013; Pappas et al., 2015; Woodside, 2014; Wu et al., 2014).
Drawing on the theory of rational choice, this paper proposes that the characteristics that attract resellers are leadership qualities, entrepreneurial nature, advisory skills, compatible attitude and charming personality. Also, this paper will identify those characteristics of a local brand representative, which influence resellers’ brand preferences and ultimately build reseller brand loyalty. Additionally, the current study contributes to the existing literature on industrial branding which describes the management of reseller networks.
Professor Suraksha Gupta, University of Kent
Professor Naresh K Malhotra, Georgia Institute of Technology
Professor Michael Czinkota, Georgetown University
Professor Pantea Foroudi, Middlesex University
Full article can be found at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2016.01.046